Rare Rides: The 1988 Chrysler Conquest - an American Sports Coupe

rare rides the 1988 chrysler conquest an american sports coupe

Quick badge swaps between Chrysler and Mitsubishi were common throughout the Eighties. Mostly a one-way affair, Chrysler rebranded Mitsubishi products as Colts, Plymouths, and Dodges. These captive imports generated revenue via Chrysler’s brand recognition while cheaply filling gaps in the domestic company’s lineup.

Today marks our first Chrysler-branded Mitsubishi, and it’s certainly the sportiest rebadge we’ve seen here. Presenting the Chrysler Conquest, from 1988.

Chrysler existed without a sports car in its portfolio for the early part of the Eighties, but did sell the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda as the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo. Those offerings ended in 1983, and in 1984 Chrysler received its own sporty car in the front-drive Chrysler Laser. That same year, Dodge received its own Laser version, as well as Mitsubishi’s Starion (as Conquest), which Mitsubishi sold on North American shores since 1983. Chrysler had to make do with the Laser as its sole sports offering until 1987, when the Conquest moved mildly upmarket for its duties at ChryCo’s finest showrooms.

Fitting its sporty mission, all examples of the Starion and Conquest were turbocharged, making use of inline-four Mitsubishi engines. Displacement options were of 2.0 or 2.6 liters, and power was transferred to the rear through a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual. Starion was based on a revised version of the Galant Lambda platform, serving as its direct successor.

There were two different body styles of Conquest, due to Japanese regulations on size. Early models were all the “narrow body,” with a 66.3-inch width. That width (and the 2.0-liter engine) qualified for a lower tax bracket. As the Starion had branched out to the American market, half way through 1985 Mitsubishi made a concession and debuted a wide-body version. Overall width grew to 68.7 inches.

But the product differentiation didn’t stop with a width adjustment. Narrow versions were now considered the entry model, and went without an intercooler on the turbo. Wide body versions had an intercooler, and most often used the larger 2.6-liter engine. Denoting the upmarket models were ESI-r badges for the Starion, and TSi markings on the Conquest. Upon the introduction of the TSi in North America, the narrow body cars were called Technica. In select markets which didn’t receive any wide-body cars, there was a concession: a more powerful ESI-r trim in narrow body format. Power figures ranged from 150 to 197 horses depending on region, turbocharger, intercooler option, and number of heads (eight or 12).

Mitsubishi continued to fiddle with things like wheel lug count and axles for the remainder of the Conquest’s run. Things got narrower for the wide body in 1988, with a decrease to 68.3 inches. That same year the car was lowered by nearly two inches, thus completing its final look. 1989 marked the last year for Conquest and Starion, as their American-made DSM successors — Plymouth Laser and company — were ready for 1990.

Today’s black-on-black Conquest TSi is in very rare form with low miles. Located in Florida, it asks $6,999.

[Images: seller]

Join the conversation
2 of 37 comments
  • Abe Abe on Aug 21, 2020

    Hate to tell u this but radial? Mazda is the only one to use rotary engines. The conquest just like it's twin the station only came with 1 engine 2.6l 4 valve turbo. While horsepower did vary it only carried between the years. 88 and 89 having the best setup. So sorry ur info is completely wrong. Their was other cars that looked similar but the only factory rotary equiped car in the 80s war the Mazda rx7.

  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Aug 26, 2020

    This is my favored JDM coupe ,based on looks alone, or perhaps tied with an FD Rx 7

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.